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Maidstone Park to undergo accessibility upgrades

by Adam Gault

The Town of Lakeshore is preparing to install new playground equipment at Maidstone Park in Belle River.

  Beginning early next week, the municipality will begin removing the aging, nearly twenty-year-old playground equipment, and begin the installation of a more contemporary and accessible playground.

The new and improved Maidstone Park will feature 11 elevated components, of which 10 are deemed accessible, nine ground level play features, a more wide-open ground level to encourage greater play creativity, accessible swings, and a resilient engineered wood fibre surfacing base, which will allow better access for those in mobility devices.

“The [previous] structure was older, and it wasn’t up to the standards [required for modern accessible parks],” explained Lakeshore’s Manager of Communications and Strategic Initiatives, Rita Chappell. “The Town wants to improve our play equipment for our residents. This is a busy park, and we want to continually improve and make these play structures available for children of all ages in our communities.”

This follows a trend taking place in parks and public areas around the county, including the recent installation of wheelchair accessible Mobi Mats at Colchester Beach, along with the Town of Lakeshore adding their own accessible matting to five municipal parks of their own, including Staples, Millen, Duck Creek, St. Clair Shores, and Lakeview Park.

“It’s the right thing to do. This is what we want to do for our residents. It’s not just individuals using wheelchairs, you could have a parent coming and they have a number of young children in a stroller, and it’s difficult for them to bring the stroller up, so they can keep an eye on their children playing on the equipment,” Chappell said. “It’s about including and making our parks accessible for everyone.”

Funding for the upgrades of the several previously mentioned Lakeshore facilities, has been provided in part through the federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, which allowed for the engineered wood fibre base to be installed at the other five facilities, making their playground base more accessible to all types of mobility devices.

This grant provides funding for eligible capital projects designed to increase opportunities for Canadians with disabilities, and allow them to take a more active role in community activities, programs, and services.

However, the scope of the improvements to Maidstone Park did not fall under this grant program, and have been fully funded by the Town of Lakeshore at a cost of $80,000.

Maidstone Park’s new playground is projected to be completed by late October, or early November, weather permitting.

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